Adhesions: Bands of scar tissue attached to organ surfaces and capable of connecting, covering, or distorting organs, such as tubes, ovaries or uterus.
AID (artificial insemination, donor): A procedure introducing sperm from an anonymous donor into a woman’s uterus in order to achieve a pregnancy.
AIH (artificial insemination, husband or homologous): A special insemination procedure used to introduce sperm collected from a woman’s partner into the woman’s uterus. Also referred to as intrauterine insemination (IUI).
Amenorrhea: Absence of menstruation
Andrology: Science of diseases of males, including infertility, spermatogenesis and sexual dysfunction
Anovulation: Total absence of ovulation, menses may still occur – see amenorrhea
Antisperm antibodies: Antibodies that may be produced by either a female or male which may damage sperm or cause them to adhere to each other, thus limiting their fertility potential.
Azoospermia: The absence of sperm in the ejaculate.
Cervical mucus: Mucus produced by the cervix which changes in thickness and quantity at the time of ovulation.
Cervix: The lower section of the uterus which protrudes into the vagina and serves as a passageway for sperm into the uterus.
Clitoris: sensitive tissue with sole purpose for sexual stimulation.
Corpus Luteum: A structure in the ovary that develops after the egg is released, which secretes progesterone.
Cryopreservation: The preservation of sperm or embryos by freezing, usually by immersion in liquid nitrogen.
Ectopic Pregnancy: Pregnancy in which the fertilized egg implants outside the uterine cavity
Embryo cryopreservation: Procedure in which embryos are preserved by freezing
Endometriosis: The presence of endometrial tissue in abnormal locations, such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries and abdominal cavity. The condition frequently causes pain and discomfort during menstruation, or even chronic pelvic pain, and may also cause infertility.
Endometrium: The inner lining of the uterus.
Estrogen: The primary female hormone produced mainly by the ovaries from puberty to menopause.
Fallopian tube: The tube that connects the uterus and ovary. It allows the egg to pass from the ovary to the uterus and the spermatozoa from the uterus toward the ovary.
Fibroids: Smooth muscle tumors of the muscular wall of the uterus which are almost always benign but may cause infertility or recurrent miscarriages.
Follicle: A cystic structure in the ovary which contains and nurtures the ovum (egg). It enlarges to a diameter of 18 – 28 mm (3/4 – 1 inch) before ovulation, at which point it releases the egg.
FSH (follicle stimulating hormone): A hormone that recruits and then stimulates growth of the follicle in the ovary, as well as the formation of spermatozoa in the testes.
GIFT (gamete intrafallopian transfer): A procedure in which eggs are removed from a ripened follicle and via laparoscopy are placed with sperm into the fallopian tube, where fertilization takes place.
Glans: sensitive tissue on the head of the penis with purpose for sexual stimulation.
Gonadotropin: A hormone (FSH, LH, hMG, hCG) which stimulates the gonads (ovaries or testes).
GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone): A small hormone produced by the brain which causes the pituitary gland to manufacture and release FSH and LH.
GnRH agonist (Lupron): Differs from GnRH at 2 amino-acid positions. Used to stop production of FSH and LH from the pituitary gland.
Gonal-F: The brand name of a new recombinant FSH used to stimulate the ovaries to produce follicles. Follistim is the brand name of another recombinant FSH on the market.
hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin): A hormone produced by the placenta. Detection of its presence in urine or blood is the basis of the pregnancy test. Also used to trigger final maturation and ovulation of the egg.
hMG (human menopausal gonadotropin): A hormone (Pergonal or Humegon) used to stimulate follicle production. Equal parts of FSH and LH are present.
Hysteroscopy: An endoscopic (fiber-optic tube) procedure used primarily to visualize the interior of the uterus.
Implantation: The embedding of the embryo in the uterine wall.
Infertility: Inability of a couple to achieve a pregnancy after one year of regular unprotected sexual relations, or the inability of the woman to carry a pregnancy to live birth
Intrauterine insemination (IUI): Placement of washed sperm into the uterus
In-vitro fertilization/embryo transfer: A procedure in which an egg is removed from a ripe follicle and fertilized with sperm outside the body. The resulting embryo is inserted into the woman’s uterus.
Laparoscopy: An abdominal surgical procedure using an endoscopic instrument (fiber-optic tube) to view the fallopian tubes, ovaries, uterus, and other abdominal structures. The laparoscope may also be used to perform surgical procedures, employing the use of lasers and other specialized equipment.
LH (luteinizing hormone): A hormone produced and released by the pituitary gland. In the female, it is responsible for maturation and then the release of the ovum. In the male, it stimulates testosterone production.
Lutrepulse: The trade name for a gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) used to induce ovulation in some patients. It is administered through an infusion pump in a pulsatile fashion.
Micromanipulation: Process whereby a single sperm is injected under the egg’s shell or directly into the egg to facilitate fertilization
Oligospermia: The presence of a low number of sperm in the ejaculate.
Ovary: produce female eggs/ovum and female hormones (estrogen, progesterone)
Ovulation: The release of a mature egg from the surface of the ovary.
Pituitary gland: A gland at the base of the brain which produces many hormones, including FSH and LH.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome: Development of multiple cysts in the ovaries due to arrested follicular growth
Polyps: Small, benign growths protruding from the lining of the endometrium or endocervix.
Progesterone: A hormone produced and released during the second half of a woman’s ovulatory cycle. It is necessary in the preparation of the uterine lining for implantation of the fertilized egg.
Scrotum: pouch of skin that holds the testes. Scrotal skin lengthens and shrinks to maintain sperm temperature.
Semen: The sperm and seminal secretions ejaculated by the male during orgasm.
Sperm: Male reproductive cells contained in the seminal fluid.
Testes: produce male sperm and male hormones (androgen, testosterone).
Testosterone: The most potent male sex hormone, produced in the testes.
Urethra: tube that passes urine and semen out of the body. Also the entry point in males for STIs.
Note: semen and urine do not pass through the urethra at the same time.
Uterine fibroids: Benign tumor made up of fibrous and muscular tissue in the uterine wall
Uterus: The reproductive organ which protects and nourishes the developing embryo/fetus. It is a hollow, muscular structure that is part of the female reproductive tract, and it is the source of a woman’s menses.
Vas deferns: tubes that transport sperm from the testes to the ejaculatory ducts; site where vasectomy (sterilization) occurs.
Vagina: A tubular passageway in the female which connects the external sex organs with the cervix and uterus.